Is 2013 the year social media goes to war? We've already seen Twitter disrupting Facebook's Instagram app integration, now Facebook is blocking access from Twitter's newly-launched Vine app and other services to further muddy the social scene.
Not So Friendly
The value of any social media service is all the content that users put up for free. While the social media giants have all the clever linking and analysis software, without our data it would be useless. And, as users, we expect our customer experience to be slick and follow us across the web from mobile to desktop, from service to service.
That has started going wrong in recent weeks. First Instagram links stopped opening directly in Twitter and now Facebook has closed access to Yandex, the Russian social search app, Vine, Twitter's new video clip iOS app and the Voxer messaging service.
As users, we're now faced with error messages when trying to link through to Facebook with these apps, and the process of adding your friends becomes more convoluted. With Facebook having shed 1.4 million U.S. and 600,000 U.K. users in recent months, will this antagonism across the social media cause more to give it up, or will users shrug and get on with life?
Looking beyond this latest round of unruly behavior, with Facebook's new Graph Search tool setting a possible new bar for social information gathering, we could be seeing the rise of Facebook as the ultimate social directory, with everyone else scurrying to their niches and building up their own databases.
Of course, fashions and trends change, and Facebook could yet be outsmarted by others. It can afford to lose a few million people here and there, as others continue to join. But, the stakes for how social media companies use our data will only become higher, and sooner or later anti-trust, competition lawyers, foreign governments or some other type of eager do-gooder will come wading in.
As well as users, the smaller players, like Voxer, may be the real victims of today's actions, but sooner or later, these moves are going to cause bigger problems for the companies concerned. Expect major trouble when that starts to happen.